Diversity and inclusion in tech: How to be an effective ally

  • Clare McDonald, Business Editor

In this video from Computer Weekly’s annual diversity and inclusion in tech event, in partnership with Spinks, a panel discusses how to be an effective ally and support others at work.

Being the only person in a room who looks like you can be exhausting, which is why an inclusive culture is so important to both attract and retain diverse talent and make everyone feel like they can be themselves in the workplace. For those from an underrepresented group, having an ally at work can be the difference between wanting to stay at a company and wanting to leave. So how can we all make sure we are doing our best to support others at work, and be an effective advocate for diversity in the tech industry as a whole?


Pips Bunce, director, global markets technology core engineering – strategic programs, Credit Suisse.

Edleen John, international relations, corporate affairs and co-partner for equality, diversity and inclusion director, Football Association.

Rana Bhattacharya, chief technology officer, Atom Bank.

Bev White, chief executive officer, Harvey Nash Group.

Ashanti Bentil-Dhue, co-founder, Diversity Ally.

Some of the questions asked, and the advice given:

What do you all do to empower people from underrepresented groups in your own workplaces?

  • Making sure recruitment processes are geared towards finding diverse talent by pushing recruitment agencies used to broaden their search areas.
  • Give all minority groups a better platform, opportunities to progress, making an effort to retain talent as well as attract it.
  • Put a focus on intersectionality to make sure all areas are diversity are considered, rather than one specific group.
  • Make sure internal employee resource groups are also working together and collaborating rather than working in silos.
  • Listen to employees and colleagues.

How do you create a safe space to allow people to bring their best selves to work?

  • Be open and communicative within the organisation.
  • If you don’t know what the right thing is to say, be open and ask, discuss and learn.
  • Give insight and education to people who are interested in being an ally and engaging in diversity and inclusion.
  • Realise no one knows everything – give people a safe space to get things wrong, learn and move on.
  • Ask people what they need to be fully present and themselves at work.
  • Ensure leadership programmes have modules on bias and prejudice.
  • Recognise the learning process might be uncomfortable.

How do you positively call out unacceptable behaviour?

  • Don’t make a point out of, or embarrass, people. Help them understand where they went wrong.
  • Express how you feel about what was said or done.

Is it harder to promote inclusive culture in a more remote world?

  • Digital culture gives more opportunity for more informal interaction.
  • Digital actions can be taken to show inclusion and allyship.
  • Pay attention to language and digital communication skills – where there isn’t body language and a social setting to interpret, it can be difficult to interpret the intention behind particular communications.
  • Have a framework for having a conversation about inclusion, diversity and allyship to make difficult conversations easier.
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